In my last post, I discussed how SAP’s planned incorporation of recent acquisitions (Crossgate and Ariba) into the SAP Business Network offers a logical advancement in B2B communications. The SAP Information Interchange OnDemand (IIOD) integration model improves on the familiar point-to-point topology by pushing customer-specific logic to inside the business network (aka the “cloud”). Doing this simplifies the integration that any one company using the SAP Business Network needs to maintain.
Chances are, however, that your organization already has a significant investment in your existing B2B communication strategy. Even if you are new to B2B communication, an SAP IIOD implementation is still an implementation project, including all the normal responsibilities, risks, and (hopefully) rewards. SAP Business Network’s value lies in its ability to simplify the on-boarding of new business partners while streamlining the maintenance of your existing B2B network, but that doesn’t mean it is easy (or free) to implement.
While most I’ve encountered understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch, I’ve found there to be much misunderstanding as to what is even on the menu. I will attempt to explain an SAP IIOD project, its deliverables, and provide roles and responsibilities for the parties involved.
SAP IIOD Project Goal
Just to recap, when it is boiled down, the goal of an SAP IIOD implementation is to go from this:
SAP IIOD Project Methodology
SAP IIOD projects follow SAP’s ASAP methodology:
Let’s be honest. This methodology can be applied to almost any IT project. So, let’s add a little more detail to see what tasks belong to each project phase.
Let’s dive into these tasks a little deeper, including, which party (Customer, SAP Business Network, and System Integrator) is responsible for its delivery.
- Define Project Scope (delivered by SAP Business Network with input from Customer) – This task is where the list of partners and messages are finalized and their order of implementation is prioritized.
- Deliver Partner Guidelines and Test Data (Customer) – The customer is requested to compile all B2B communication partner guidline documents. These documents are the basis on which SAP Business Network uses for their deliverables. Test data sets are collected and staged for use in unit testing.
- Assessment and Analysis (System Integrator) – The system integrator (SI) analyzes the existing B2B communication strategy and maps out the implementation of the first-mile integration (more on this later).
- BPI Development (SAP Business Network) – SAP Business Network consultants review the partner guidelines supplied by the customer and create a Business Partner Interface (BPI) document that acts as both the basis for the transformation that occurs in IIOD and the requirements for the first-mile integration.
- Setup Connection (Customer) – The customer is responsible for connecting their ERP instance to the SAP Business Network.
- First-Mile Integration (System Integrator) – While the SAP Business Network handles conversion and delivery of business data to/from partner-specific formats, this business data still needs to get to the SAP Business Network in the correct format. First-Mile Integration encompasses all that is required to get the data from your ERP instance to the SAP Business Network and back again.
- Partner Profile Development (SAP Business Network) – The SAP Business Network develops their profiles to handle the conversion of data to/from the partner specific formats per the partner guidelines.
- Testing (All Parties) – All parties are engaged in the Integration Test phase of the project.
- Partner On-boarding Preparation (Customer, SAP Business Network, Partner) – While the cutover to the SAP Business Network is generally painless and transparent to your business partners, it is still best practice to make your partners aware of this change as it does have a small potential to impact them. Additionally, any new partners can be prepared to be on-boarded during this phase.
- Go-Live (All Parties) – This step is pretty self-explanatory.
- Hand off to Service Management (Customer, SAP Business Network) – After a brief hyper-care period, SAP Business Network Service Management is the team that handles the operation support for IIOD post go-live.
In my next post, I will explain why, of all the tasks listed above, first-mile integration represents the biggest risk to an SAP IIOD implementation project.